It’s that time again. RUTAS panamericanas is back in full swing! I love this company and I love this festival. Now in its third year, RUTAS is a celebration of artists from across the Americas.
For me, it is a celebration of artistic voices that resonates with my identity of being a first-generation Canadian. It’s a festival that asks questions, explores possibilities, and unites communities. It is a place that feels like home and I’m excited to be a part of it.
When I graduated, I spent the first five years of my professional career mostly behind the scenes, learning and honing administrative skills that I knew I’d need in order to survive as an artist. I learned a lot and the administrative/producing skills I developed have served to make me a better artist. But I am an artist first and foremost. I need to create. I’ve recently been switching gears, moving from the offices to the studio. My creativity is bursting at the seams and my body is trembling at the creative energy. The opportunity to use my body to tell stories, to write, and create is something I know I need. I’m so done with “telling”, I want to create stories and show them. I want to delve into the deepest parts of myself and pull out what I find. I want to give my heart to my community and ask that we journey together to a place of truth, love, and understanding.
With that said, there are two events in particular that are coming up at RUTAS that I’d like to highlight.
The first is b current’s diaspora Dub. I always like to explain to people who haven’t heard of b current that it is a small but mighty company. Now celebrating it’s 25th year, b current knows how to get things done. From award winning training programs, a who’s who of alumni, to producing shows that break barriers and connect communities, b current is a company dedicated to providing a space for diverse voices with a strong focus on engaging the communities from which these voices originate.
So it’s no surprise that on their Silver Anniversary, b current is taking it back to where it all began and giving Toronto a reimagined classic: DARK DIASPORA…IN DUB.
Spanning over two decades of “social/political/economic events” diaspora Dub is a celebration of the black leaders of Toronto. It is a celebration of the influence these leaders have with our city and how this intersects with our greater Toronto ecology.
Breaking the boundaries of “traditional” performance, diaspora Dub is a site-driven immersive parading display that incorporates poetry, fashion, dance, music, and storytelling with some of Toronto’s finest talent. Led by the powerhouse dub poet/creator and founding Artistic Director of b current: ahdri zhina mandiela, diaspora Dub is going to be a real treat for audiences looking for an experience.
Highlights include a visual homage to Toronto’s black “movers and shakers” through costumes designed by award-winning Toronto Photographer Michael Chambers.
diaspora Dub plays for one performance only on Sunday Oct. 9th at 4:00pm.
The second event taking place at RUTAS this year that I’m excited to talk about is the Master Class Writing with the body with Cristina Castrillo. This master class is an opportunity for performers to learn and share space with an incredible theatre artist and creator.
Cristina Castrillo is a performer, creator, and director originally from Argentina, now based out of Switzerland. She has over four decades of performance creation under her belt. One of the founding members of Libre Teatro Libre, Cristina’s work places the performer/actor at its core. Drawing from physical memory, these master classes will have us digging deep within ourselves to draw out the “physical memory our bodies hold that can propel our performances to new heights. Whether working with a written script or not, Cristina’s workshop on storytelling through the body is something you don’t want to miss.
Photo courtesy of: Martina Tritten
Cristina’s three day Master Class is limited to 14 participants. It will be held Saturday Oct. 8th, Sunday Oct. 9th, and Monday Oct. 10th from 2:30-6:30pm.
The opportunity to learn about and celebrate cultures that have shaped and impacted our communities isn’t always available to us here in Toronto. For me as an artist, I need to be inspired by works that push boundaries and aren’t afraid to tell me something. Works by artists who aren’t afraid to rattle me and be unapologetic in how they use their voice to tell me their story. Because at the end of the day, I want to hear stories based in truths. Sometimes those truths can be ugly and sometimes those truths can be funny, but hearing stories with heart and truth is where I want to be.
RUTAS has and will always be a meeting place for me. A place where I can be comfortable in my own skin, celebrating voices, stories, and cultures that resemble my own. RUTAS reminds me that I don’t have to travel far to be with family, to be part of a community. RUTAS reminds me of dinners and parties I grew up with. It provides me with meaningful/insightful dialogue, music, dancing, and celebration. It provides me with a space to explore, follow, lead, and spread my wings, to share my voice.
RUTAS panamericanas connects the Americas through the arts. At a time in my life where I’m exploring and learning about my roots, my culture, and my voice, RUTAS is a festival that will take me by the hand and show me through an international lens the artistic excellence that is possible to achieve. Because when experiencing RUTAS one quickly realizes that community, art, and stories, are the fabric that connects and holds us together.
So come out engage, partake, and experience the celebration that is RUTAS panamericanas.
We want to share our voices with our community. We want to share our culture. We want to share our time with you!
I hope to see you there.
Text by: Joseph Recinos
b current – In 1991 b current launched with the world’s first mounting of this dub theatre script by Ahdri Zhina Mandiela. As part of its 25th anniversary, photographer Michael Chamber joins in this re-imagining performance/ installation that combines the rhythms and dramatic choral repetitions of dub poetry with choreographed movement. Part exploration and part celebration, the show wonderfully evokes black women’s power and insights.
Writing with the body – focuses on creating a physical language inspired by our personal lived experiences and transforming them into poetic theatrical images that allow us to write with or without the use of words. The fundamental element of Cristina Castrillo’s theatrical work is memory; not only with a reference to what one remembers or thinks one remembers, but rather as that often imperceptible network of cues through which an emotion appears or a reaction directs movement. Memory is not perceived as a reproduction of facts, but as an uncharted personal geography, with which we manifest ourselves. In Spanish with live translation.
Joseph Recinos is a member of CANACOS, a group of Latin Canadian professional theatre artists supported by Aluna, who will act as artistic ambassadors throughout RUTAS panamericanas 2016. Tickets for diaspora Dub and all festival presentations are now available at www.rutas.ca.